With the arrival of December, many craft breweries in British Columbia are releasing special beers for the holiday season.
These beers are often a little darker and stronger, making them perfectly suited for colder, darker days, and some incorporate spices or ingredients that invite holiday nostalgia. In fact, 2020 might as well be called the “Year of the Gingerbread Beer” since so many different breweries are releasing creatively-flavoured beers designed to taste like ginger snaps.
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Here are our suggestions for holiday beers and gift packs you’ll find on the BC Ale Trail.
Check our handy Liquor Store directory to find some of these beers at a local retailer that specializes in BC craft beer.
Barkerville Brewing in Quesnel has released its annual winter ale:
- Cold Snap Winter Ale (5.5% ABV | 17 IBU) This winter ale has a bright nose (like Rudolph!), with citrus, vanilla, ginger, and just a hint of molasses, and finishes dry with a lasting flavour of orange peel and roasted barley.
Bridge Brewing has a trio of holiday-themed beers this year:
- The Grinch Winter Ale (6.5% ABV | 20 IBU) A robust porter spiced delicately with cinnamon, vanilla, and oak.
- Santa’s Sac Belgian Golden Strong (10.5% ABV |30 IBU) This Belgian Golden Strong-style ale was fermented with Trappist Ale yeast, resulting in notes of clove, banana, and peppercorn.
- Chalet All Day Horchata Blonde Ale (5% ABV | 15 IBU) Cinnamon, vanilla, lactose, and a touch of fresh coffee beans come together for a beer reminiscent of a classic horchata or frappuccino.
Kamloops’ Bright Eye Brewing has a special release for the holiday season:
- Everything’s Vine Cabernet Franc Saison (6% ABV | 15 IBU) This wine/beer hybrid underwent a secondary fermentation on 150 lbs of Cabernet Franc grape skins from Harper’s Trail Winery, resulting in a refreshing rosé quality that finishes dry, with a fantastic perceived sweetness from the Saison yeast blend.
Three holiday beers from Langley’s Camp Beer Co.:
- Winter CAMP (6% ABV) This ginger snap cookie-style ale is perfect for the holiday season.
- Barrel-Aged Flannel Pyjamas (10% ABV) Wee Heavy Scottish Ale aged in Jack Daniels bourbon barrels.
- Hopsecco Brut Pale Ale (5% ABV | 25 IBU) Bone dry and effervescent, perfect for New Year’s.
From Dead Frog Brewery comes their special annual holiday release:
- Winter Beeracle Winter Ale (7% ABV | 24 IBU) A warm winter ale with rich chocolate malts, salted caramel, and a hint of mocha on the finish.
From Deep Cove Brewers & Distillers in North Vancouver:
- Ginger Snap Brown Ale (5.7% ABV) Fresh ginger, molasses, cinnamon, and cloves evoke the holiday season in this smooth and creamy beer.
Port Alberni’s Dog Mountain Brewing is celebrating the season with:
- Chai Hard (5.1% ABV) A chai-spiced brown ale reminiscent of a sweet, carbonated, cold chai latté.
Vancouver’s Electric Bicycle Brewing has a sour treat for the holidays:
- Holiday Jam Cranberry Sour (5% ABV | 12 IBU) The festive label on this beer that was brewed with cranberry purée makes it the ideal gift to put under a beer lover’s Christmas tree. It will be sold on its own or as part of a Holiday Mix Pack that includes a code to see a special video featuring a virtual brewery tour and tasting by Santa Claus and his elves.
Also in Vancouver, Faculty Brewing has collaborated on this special beer for the holiday season:
- 681 Dirty Chai Porter (4.8% ABV | 22 IBU) Made in collaboration with local Vancouver artisans, Milano Roasters and O5 Tea, this beer boasts spicy flavours from the chai in harmony with coffee, cocoa, vanilla, and biscuit as well as nutty flavours from the malt and espresso beans.
Pitt Meadows’ Foamers’ Folly Brewing has a unique seasonal offering:
- Jezibaba Absinthe Stout (6% ABV | 30 IBU) Jezibaba is Baba Yaga’s (less scary and more helpful) Czech sister. This beer is a robust stout aged on leaves of lemon balm and mint, and then blended with Baba Yaga Absinthe from Arbutus Distilling, resulting in notes of sweet liquorice, mint, and subtle citrus.
Howl Brewing in North Saanich is offering two special holiday beers this month:
- Pere Noel Dubbel (6.5 ABV | 20 IBU) A strong Belgian Dark Ale with chocolate and caramel notes, made with Belgian candy sugar and coriander.
- Winter Saison (5 ABV | 8 IBU) Brewed with ginger, honey, lemon zest, and chamomile, and no hops.
Nanaimo’s Longwood Brewery has dessert covered:
- Cake Chocolate Raspberry Stout (5% ABV | 26 IBU) This sweet stout is layered with dark chocolate notes followed by tart raspberry and a long smooth finish.
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Main Street Brewing‘s Miracle on Main Street is a great way to enjoy delicious beer while also giving back to the community during the holiday season. Here are the details:
During these 12 days of giving, brewery-goers who drop off an unwrapped toy or gift card with a minimum value of $10 at Main Street (261 East 7th Ave.) will receive a complimentary flight of its ‘core four’ beers — Naked Fox IPA, Main Street Pilsner, Fruit Bomb Sour, and Kingpin Pale Ale — as well as entry into a series of ‘odd-day’ draws with prizes from Main Street-area merchants taking place December 3 to 25.
Throughout December, Main Street Brewing will also be selling select four-packs of its 473-mL and six-packs of its 355-mL beer in special Main Street holiday gift wrap and themed tags, as well as rolls of the gift wrap for $2, with partial proceeds also donated to The Lower Mainland Christmas Bureau. Every gift pack purchase will also earn an entry into the odd-day draws.
Draw winners will receive a six-pack of Main Street beer and a $50 gift card to Main Street-area merchants, and every entrant over the age of 19 will also be entered into the grand prize of one flat of Main Street beer a month for a year to be drawn on Christmas Day.
All items collected at the brewery will be delivered in time for Christmas to the Lower Mainland Christmas Bureau, which has been putting smiles on children’s faces throughout the community since 1930. A wish list of preferred toys and donations for a range of ages can be found here. Main Street is also inviting people to drop off canned goods and non-perishable food items at the brewery to be donated to The Greater Vancouver Food Bank.
Mount Arrowsmith Brewing in Parksville has released a special beer just in time for Christmas:
- Thirsty Monk Juicy Belgian Golden Strong Ale (8.5% ABV | 25 IBU) Southern hemisphere Mouteka and Ella hops and a unique Belgian yeast result in a refreshing, tropical, juicy punch with moderate bitterness and a dry effervescent body.
Revelstoke’s Mt. Begbie Brewing has an award-winning beer to share:
- Stoked Winter Ale (6% ABV | 20 IBU) Cinnamon, nutmeg, and clove are soaked in dark rum before being added to the beer and conditioning for 30 days. In 2019, Stoked Winter Ale won Gold for Canada at the World Beer Awards and silver at the Canadian Brewing Awards.
From New Tradition Brewing in Comox:
- Cherry Me Home (5% ABV | 29 IBU) Inspired by Oma’s black forest chocolate cake featuring dark chocolate, cherries, and Mandarina Bavaria hops.
The Noble Pig Brewhouse in Kamloops has decided to do something a bit different this year. Throughout December they are offering special “holiday infusion” beers. They are available on tap or in 650-ml bottles, as well as in various gift pack options with Noble Pig glassware and seasonal snacks:
- Chocomint Mocha Porter (5.5% ABV | 22 IBU) Peppermint and pure cacao give the Noble Pig’s Stone House Mocha Porter a good dose of holiday nostalgia.
- Mulled Swine (5% ABV | 20 IBU) An infusion of mulling spices gives the Belgian Pepper Ale an extra zing!
North Point Brewing in North Vancouver presents:
- Wobbly Toboggan IPA (9.5% ABV | 65 IBU) This White IPA is abundantly hopped with Nelson Sauvin and Azacca, presenting notes of gooseberry, tropical fruit, spice, and bitterness.
Port Moody’s Parkside Brewery offers:
- SPECTAACULOUS ‘Spice Cookie’ Stout (7.2% ABV | 25 IBU) A robust stout inspired by the European speculaas spice cookie – also known as the Windmill Cookie – with warming flavours of brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla, and cardamom.
Gibsons’ Persephone Brewing is part of the parade of Gingerbread beer producers:
- Imperial Gingerbread Porter (8.2% ABV) A strong dark ale with notes of molasses, ginger, vanilla, roasted malt, and cinnamon.
Abbotsford’s Ravens Brewing offers this grown-up version of a winter treat:
- Hot Chocolate Porter (6% ABV | 30 IBU) Conditioned with cocoa nibs, this robust porter has rich, silky chocolate flavours with hints of vanilla.
Vancouver’s R&B Brewing is celebrating the season with a special Belgian-style Tripel:
- Rue de la Soif Belgian Tripel (8% ABV) Bottle-conditioned in a cork-and-cage bottle, making it cellar-able or ideal for a New Year’s toast.
Sherwood Mountain Brewhouse in Terrace has two special holiday offerings:
- Silent Night (7.25% ABV | 18 IBU) The recipe for this spiced Belgian ale was created by owner Darryl Tucker and a visiting Belgian brewer back in 2014 before the brewery even opened. Sherwood Mountain releases it every Christmas and hopes to present it at a Winter Beer Festival in Belgium one day.
- Glühwein Kombucha (mulled wine): Meaning hot wine in German. Made with red wine and spiced with cloves, cinnamon, and nutmeg.
Celebrate the season with Silver Valley Brewing in Maple Ridge:
- “A Great Big Sled” Gingerbread Scottish Ale (5.5% ABV | 20 IBU) This festive take on a Scottish Ale features caramel, toffee, and toasty biscuit flavours, along with a healthy dose of gingerbread spices.
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Vancouver’s Storm Brewing has a special called “The 12 Fills of Christmas,” which features one-litre growler fills of five barrel-aged beers, six other exclusive brews (including two collabs and one bottle of King Rattus XXV Blackberry Lambic, its special edition 25th anniversary release).
Penticton’s Tin Whistle Brewing, which is under new management, has released this special beer for the holidays:
- Chocolate Cherry Porter (6.5% ABV | 28 IBU) Inspired by a Black Forest Cake, this made with 50 lbs of Belgian chocolate and 330 lbs of BC Organic Cherries. Yum!
Townsite Brewing in Powell River produces this multi-award-winning beer each winter:
- Belgian Dubbel (7.5% ABV). Subtly spiced with coriander, star anise and Belgian candy sugar, this dark ale tastes of plums, currants, and caramel.
Nanaimo’s White Sails Brewing has bottled a taproom favourite just in time for the holidays:
- Chocolate Porter (5% ABV) Brewed with a trifecta of chocolate (organic cacao nibs, chocolate malt, and organic chocolate extract) for a smooth, rich flavour and a semi-sweet finish.
Whitetooth Brewing (Golden, BC) is celebrating the holiday season with some delicious beers:
- 4th Anniversary Mocha Oat Stout (5.8% ABV | 19 IBU) This special birthday stout features notes of coffee, cocoa, and vanilla.
- Directissima Dubbel (7.7% ABV | 21 IBU) A strong Belgian-style Dubbel that features a gloriously deep reddish-brown colour with rich malty flavours of raisins, dark fruit, and sweet brown bread.
- Truth, Dare, Consequence Nordic Imperial Stout (10% ABV | 90 IBU ) A potent interpretation of a Scandinavian farm stout that features a hearty, smoky malt core balanced by hops and juniper berries.
Yellow Dog Brewing’s holiday offering is:
- Elf Juice Mandarin Hazy IPA (7% ABV | 30 IBU) The fifth annual holiday beer released in conjunction with CFOX Radio to support charity.
Breweries are also offering a variety of gift packs combining special beers with other items that will please any beer lover who finds them under their Christmas tree.
Container X-Mas Crate – Container Brewing, Vancouver
Give the gift of Container with a Container pocket ‘t’, pint glass and four-pack of your choice.
Available through the brewery’s website or at select liquor retailers.
12 Days of Xmas Beer Box – East Van Brewing, Vancouver
Each box includes a dozen different 650ml bottles from East Van classics to one-off exclusives, carefully curated to take you on a beer journey leading up to the big day.
Gratitude Gift Pack – Hoyne Brewing (Victoria)
Hoyne Brewing releases this special winter ale each December to say thanks to, well, everyone —read the poem written by Sean Hoyne that graces the beer’s label to see what we mean. The gift pack includes two branded snifter glasses and one 650-ml bottle of Gratitude (9% ABV) in a stylish gift box.
12 Beers of Christmas – LoveShack Libations, Qualicum Beach
This features 12 different LoveShack brews including two specially brewed for the holiday season: Vanilla Bourbon Stout (7.2% ABV) and Winter Wonder Ale (6.2% ABV).
Available at the brewery on Saturdays only. Check ahead for availability. Found on the Vancouver Island Ale Trail Part 2.
Krampus Bundle – Strange Fellows Brewing, Vancouver
This gift pack includes one 750-ml bottle of Krampus Abbey Dubbel (8.5% ABV), a gold Krampus glass, and a bonus gift card that can be redeemed for one glass of beer at the brewery.
Christmas Box – Whistle Buoy Brewing, Victoria
The box includes three 946ml crowlers of Whistle Buoy beer, a limited edition, branded Belgian-style stemmed glass, and a 473ml can of Espresso Stout that will match perfectly with a chocolate dessert following a holiday meal.